The kindergarten reportedly planned to change its name to “World Explorer” a year before the conflict escalated
The Anne Frank daycare in Taengerhutte has come under fire from Jewish community members and local politicians for attempting to change its name during the politically charged climate of Israel’s war on Gaza. However, the change was under discussion “long before the current discussions and events,” the daycare insisted in a press release on Monday, following several days of attacks in the media.
Instead of “Anne Frank,” the daycare’s name since it opened in the 1970s, it would be called “World Explorer” going forward. But the statement, posted to the city’s website, stressed that the name change was not set in stone, nor was it a reaction to the current political climate, having been under consideration for 14 months amid a total renovation of the facility.
Daycare manager Linda Schichor explained that children and migrant parents had trouble understanding the story of Frank, a Jewish girl who kept a diary while hiding from the Nazis with her family in an Amsterdam attic and who later died of typhus in a concentration camp. “We wanted something without a political background,” she told local outlet Volksstimme on Monday.
Taengerhutte Mayor Andreas Brohm spoke in favor of the name change, pointing out that it accompanied a shift in focus at the daycare toward diversity and self-actualization. Parents’ and employees’ wishes outweighed outsiders’ geopolitical concerns, he argued.
Brohm told Politico the name change hadn’t even come up for debate yet when the controversy erupted on Saturday, explaining the daycare was merely seeking something “that has a more positive connotation, not because Anne Frank has a negative connotation, but because people associate what they associate with it and with the day-care center concept.”
Volksstimme was initially contacted by an anonymous parent who claimed her whole family was outraged that the facility, which her mother had attended as a child, was changing its name. The story quickly went viral in German media, eliciting a pile-on by Jewish community groups – including the State Association of Jewish Communities in Saxony-Anhalt, the German-Israeli Society in Magdeburg, and the International Auschwitz Committee – commenting on the controversy.
The latter’s executive Vice President, Christoph Heubner, pleaded with the citizens of Taengerhutte in an open letter to “reconsider the whole thing” lest they “chase [Frank] away again in her German homeland.”
The state of Saxony-Anhalt’s economy minister, Sven Schulze, even declared that the CDU party would “of course not agree to the renaming of the Anne Frank daycare center,” warning fellow councillors on Saturday against allowing such a “completely absurd, impulsive and small-minded” proposal to advance, in a post on X (formerly Twitter).